Making the hard small changes

I’m a people watcher. I admit it – I’m fascinated by people and as I make my way through the busy streets of Vancouver, or wherever I am, I people watch. I could just say I blame it on my father, who is an avid people watcher, but the truth is human behaviour fascinates me, and when you live in a big city, there’s a lot of behaviour to keep you busy!

What catches my eye? It runs the gamut really. Sometimes it’s the difference in people’s face, from the woman whose eyes sparkles as she heads to work, to the man whose face is at rest, but the lines in his face reflect a life lived hard. It’s the clothes people wear and the way people communicate, or don’t as the case may be. I wonder, as I watch the teens walking down the street, each with their eyes on their phones texting away, why the company of the person they are with isn’t as good as the person they are texting. And I watch people making choices.

Stairs or escalator? Jaywalk or wait for the light to change? Burger and fries, or soup and salad?

And as I pass the countless coffee shops in the city, I see people making another choice, one I’m at a loss to understand. As I look at the line ups, and see people picking up their coffee orders, I see that the vast majority of customers are making the choice to use a disposable cup versus a reusable one.

With almost every coffee shop selling travel mugs and with these reusable choices part of promotional giveaways ad nauseum, why is it so many of us still are making a choice that puts more garbage in our landfills and waste in our oceans?

The easy answer is convenience, of course, but it’s an answer that leaves me hollow. With awareness about our environment growing, and the knowledge that we all need to make small and big changes, shouldn’t we be able to make the simple change of keeping a travel mug with us?

There’s no doubt that change is hard. We all have busy lives, and with mornings where we barely get out of the house dressed and fed, remembering to bring a travel mug with us seems like just one more thing to do. But for all the environmental pressures our planet faces, we have to start with the small changes because they do add up and make a difference.

Reducing our footprint isn’t just about recycling, it’s about not producing the waste in the first place. So, keep a travel mug in your briefcase or purse. Carry a small reusable bag so you don’t get caught needing a plastic bag when you make an unplanned purchase. Choose products with little or no packaging. Make a small change, and join others in tackling the big problems, so that one day soon, what was once inconvenient becomes the way things are always done.

Here are some more ideas on how to be a better Steward of the Strait.

2 thoughts on “Making the hard small changes

  1. Thanks Christianne. I agree the little habits add up; there are so many of us making similar decisions all the time that those little decisions do end up having a big impact. I try to lead by example, and since I don't like being forced to change tend not to be too vocal about what other people "should" be doing. Maybe it's time to change that?

  2. Being told what to do is never comfortable, and I'm a big believer in leading by example, but perhaps we can start by nudging those closest to us? Encouraging one person in our circle to make a small change might be easier than trying to change a stranger. And then, we have more people leading by example. Eventually, we can get to a tipping point!

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